For the past five days I’ve been blogging about grief. Specifically grief over our brokenness that contributes to global poverty. I’ve been using this picture as a focal point. Meditating on the idea that “the poor” are often seen as broken yet we are all broken; sitting in the shadows of culture and power; often trying to cover up our brokenness.
In full disclosure this practice was part of one of my doctoral classes but the subject of poverty was so timely and the process so fulfilling that I thought it might be helpful to share here. Advent and Christmas reminds us that God is with us and that Jesus came into the world for and among the poor first as the shepherds were the first (non family or animals) to see him. My daily meditations on grief about the poor taught me many things about myself that I’d like to share.
- Grief is not to be taken lightly. Reflecting on grief and not moving directly to hope or a solution is very, very difficult for me. But I discovered that by dwelling on my grief for my neighbor without rushing the process I was able to empathize much more deeply with my neighbor and appreciate hope in a profound way as well. The process brought up reminders of other grief in my life. I remembered my step-mom who died on Dec 1, 2013. Although the grief is gone the loss is still felt. I still mourn and grieve but I don’t stay there. Bringing back the feelings of grief related to something else helped me to do some healing regarding her loss. This healing process was a means of grace. I feel like I’ve just scratched the surface but I also feel like I’ve discovered a new discipline that will help me grow stronger emotionally as well as spiritually.
- My connection to poverty is loose at best. Poverty is defined differently by different people. I understand that it is not only about measurable income or wealth but also about a state of mind toward needs and whole living. Yet even with this broader definition I have a hard time wrapping my head around poverty because I don’t embody poverty. While the fact that my county, though affluent, has homelessness troubles me deeply I still have only a dim idea of what poverty is really like. I can point to injustice. I can give examples of people who identify as poor and tell their stories of struggle but their injustices and struggles are not mine. I cannot fully grieve those. What I discovered is that what I can grieve is my brokenness that perpetuates the systems that contribute to the problem.
- The creative process needs a revival in the church. Why is it that we do crafts, sing songs, dance, and do skits with our children and youth for religious education but stop short after graduation? The funnel of creativity is limited after high school to church choirs and occasional musical offerings. You might find larger churches doing liturgical dances or out of the box churches highlighting art during worship but it is not common practice. The process that I took in looking for a place to take a picture awakened my soul! I wanted to show why we needed to do more in this world without using words or logical fallacies or conversely something that would make a good Instagram photo (although I think it would). I discovered that this undertaking opened my own eyes and perhaps let me see just a glimpse through the eyes of God.
- I am my own blind-spot. When reflecting on poverty I wanted to point to the flaws in our education systems, our government, and our justice systems. Yet time and time again God kept saying, “Yes but…” I have a role to play in this as well. I discovered that brokenness was a harsh reminder of my role in what I grieve.